Despite the fact that the invention of the e-cigarettes – the ‘smokeless’ electronic cigarettes, as they are referred to in their present incarnation in the modern world – dates back to 2003, the foundation for the e-cigarettes was apparently laid down in the early 1990s, when gum and skin patches emerged on the ‘smoking’ scene as a mechanism for doing away with the tobacco cigarettes to get nicotine into the bloodstream.

The nicotine patches then gave way to nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) in the mid-1990s, with the Nicorette brand coming up with the lozenge, the mist, the nasal spray, the micro tab, and the white “vaporizers.” It was the easy over-the-counter availability of the NRTs by 1996 which eventually paved the way for the e-cigarettes.

E-cigarette invention by Hon Lik: E-cigarettes came into existence as a safer alternative to the tobacco cigarettes in 2003, when the first e-cigarette was designed by 52-year-old Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik. There were two personal circumstances which led to the invention of the e-cigarette by Lik: an acute respiratory infection that he himself was suffering from; and his father fighting a losing battle with lung cancer. The e-cigarette appeared to be a healthier ‘smoking’ option than the tobacco cigarette because it did not contain tar or other toxic chemicals which were a part and parcel of its conventional counterparts.

One year after the invention of the e-cigarette by Lik, the Golden Dragon Group – for which Lik worked – started marketing the e-cigarettes in 2004, under the name ‘Ruyan’, which means ‘almost the same as smoke.’

Availability of e-cigarettes in the western world: The use of e-cigarettes picked up gradually when the word spread around that these ‘smokeless’ cigarettes did not emit the detrimental substances which were released in the smoke of conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes only released non-toxic vapors of nicotine into the lungs, leaving the users to release only water vapors when they exhaled.

With the popularity of e-cigarettes witnessing an exponential rise, largely due to effective promotion and increased use of the Internet, the idea of e-cigarettes was adopted by a number of manufacturers who started producing e-cigarettes of their own brand. In the so-called western world, the e-cigarette idea was first brought to the UK by a businessman, who dubbed his e-cigarette brand as the ‘Electro Fag.’ The contraption was so well-received by the smokers in the country that the British government declared the use of e-cigarettes as ‘legal’ in all those public places where cigarette smoking was earlier prohibited.

The e-cigarettes – or ‘e-cigs’ as they are called in the western world – made their way to the US markets in 2006-07; and, ever since, numerous e-cigarette brands are being sold online, at conventional cigarette shops, in shopping malls, and other retail stores. Thereafter, the use of different versions of e-cigarettes has been gaining ground in countries all over the world, predominantly due to the reason that there is a ‘healthy smoking option’ tag attached to them for the benefit of the smokers, and they are also ‘harmless’ for the ‘passive’ smokers, who are otherwise exposed to the second-hand smoke of the conventional cigarettes!

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